Industrial Revolution 3.0 & Future of 3D Printing
Mike Senese, Senior Editor at Wired
Peter Weijmarshausen, CEO and Co-Founder of 3D printing marketplace Shapeways
·      Is 3D printing really a gamechanger?
o   For last hundred years, getting used to mass manufacturing
o   Very effective at making complicated products in a fast, efficient way.
o   The problem is that they’re all so similar.
o   As the enduser, we have no influence over those products. We can only choose to buy or not buy (and hence we have marketers to convince us to buy.)
o   But people like to customize their products.
o   We want to make products unique, customized to each person’s needs and wants, and still doing it fast and effectively.
o   The combination is so powerful, it’s the next industrial revolution.
·      You only sell what you need. This wouldn’t be possible without the Internet. With the internet, we have feedback loops very tight. WE can do design loops very quickly. One product a year is quite normal. But on Shapeways, we’ve seen 20 or 30 iterations in a month. That’s just impossible in traditional ways.
·      You can experiment: there’s no startup costs.
·      3D printing brings products on par with software. No startup costs, you can develop just intellectual property, and turn it into something you can sell.
·      There are mirrors to what digital did to the music industry. The industry existed in a certain way for a long timeit was an effective industry. Mass customization could allow consumers to have anything they want. How are big brands going to take advantage of this opportunity?
·      Replacements parts: if a knob falls of a stereo, now you can get the exact replacement piece.
o   Manufacturers have a problem: e.g. when they make a car, they need to keep enough spare parts on hand to have a 20 year supply of those parts. Their inventory is huge. The car is designed with CAD, so all the parts could be manufactured on demand, relieving the need to keep 20 years of inventory for every part for every car produced.
·      Nokia released a phone case design under Creative Commons license, and within hours, people were modifying and adding to the case: headphone wrappers, different bases.
·      Existing powerhouses often don’t get it disruptive change. So will the manufacturers of today be the ones to adopt 3D, or will new manufactuersemerge?
·      What are some really exciting things you see coming? And how will design change, as 3D printing enables new types of products that couldn’t exist before?
o   We’re going to see design driving companies, instead of it being an idea that kicks things off, and then design is something that happens at the end.
o   Having 3D allows people to amplify the integration of design at the front of the process.
o   We’ll see more cases of designers as the heads of companies.
o   It’s staggering to see the size and complexity of the design files to render these 3D objects. We’ve got the computers and infrastructure to work within this space.
·      Why is this happening now?
o   3D printing is as old as the internet.
o   It’s the coming together as:
§  3D printers are more mature. They are more reliable and the output is more meaningful.
§  We have to be able to create the designs, and not so long ago, CAD software was very expensive. Now the software is free, and we have millions of people using it.
§  And the computers have to be powerful enough.
§  The internet allows the exchange of these files.
§  And the internet allows the printers to be centralized, and distributed via mail.
§  It allows production to be localized again, by having the printers and equipment near where it needs to be.
§  NY was once a hub of manufacturing. We were excited to open a facility in NY, because it brings the manufacturing back close to where the designers are.
§  Local manufacturing is much better on the carbon footprint, brings back high tech jobs, and enables close-knit communities around this.
·      Will the 3d printing space get to a point where everyone is using?
o   Sometimes we’ll be using it without knowing it.
o   Boeing built the Dreamliner. Saves more fuel, has higher internal humidity. Some of the parts are 3D printed.
o   More and more products will pop up around us, we won’t realize they are they 3d printed.
o   People get upset if you take away their internet. They don’t understand how it works, but they don’t want it to go away. Right now, 3D printing is in the “this is cool technology” phase, but eventually it will be invisible.
o   We may print engines in the future, because making cooling channels can lead to better fuel efficiency, and current subtractive techniques only work to make straight channels. 3d printing can make a better engine. We won’t think it’s 3d printed, we’ll just think “oh, this is a better engine.”
o   Clothing is another great opportunity for printing. Today we use sizes, because we need to mass manufacturer. It’s always a compromise: too loose here, to short there, etc. With 3d printing, you could get clothes that are perfect. You can also have variation that is integral to the clothing: e.g. a stronger elbow or knee part, which seamlessly transitions into softer, lighter regions.
§  The machine is happy to make all the clothes slightly different.
·      We here a lot about the MakerBot model. As we move forward, what types of developments are we going to see?
o   Today, different ways to print. The machines we use at Shapeways are mostly based on nylon powder with lasers, and it’s deposited layer by layer, and fused together.
§  All based on one material and plastic.
o   In 2009, we found company that could make metal parts. We can print in titanium, stainless steel, and silver.
o   We can also do ceramic and glass.
o   The next generation of machines can do multiple materials. You can mix materials. You can dither materials: e.g. transparent and black, metal and plastic. We need a language to describe these new materials. We can do tough and soft together. We can design in where things should break, which is sometimes necessary.
o   The third generation is printing semiconductors. We can print LEDs and actuators and gears. In a few years, we can design devices and upload them.